No One Said It Would Be Easy
Rainworth’s season in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South has turned into a nightmare with relegation a distinct possibility.
A visit to current leaders Sutton Coldfield was not a fixture they viewed with anything but trepidation and so it proved.
The players list for the current season has more a look of the ‘Titanic’s’ passenger manifest than that of the required settled side.
Today’s incomings and outgoings only added to it with Romaine Graham returning from Mickleover Sports and Craig Mitchell having left to join AFC Mansfield.
Both sides had early chances and in the 6th minute Robert Evans should have opened the scoring for Sutton Coldfield but his effort struck Jake Turner on the line and went out for a corner.
Rainworth had a chance in the 8th minute but Alex Kenlock’s effort was blocked for a corner.
Sutton continued to dominate and Jordan Nadat had two chances in quick succession, the first blocked for a corner and the second scuffed wide after an excellent reverse ball had put him through.
Then in the 12th minute a goal of such simplicity, as Justin Richards was allowed to turn and he nonchalantly passed the ball into the far corner to open the scoring. Whilst the shot may have lacked power its accuracy was of the highest order and it gave Turner no chance.
On 14 minutes Rainworth had a chance as Henry Sibenge found Alex Ford, but his effort was wide of the far post.
Then in the space of three minutes Sutton Coldfield almost doubled their lead as Nadat’s header went over the bar when well-placed and Richard’s free-kick was tipped around the upright by Turner for a corner. From the resultant corner Theo Brown headed Tom Turton’s header off the line.
In the 32nd minute Dean Freeman’s long throw was headed just wide of the upright by Graham.
They went even closer in the 35th minute when Ford ran at the defence and his inviting cross only needed a touch to force the equaliser.
However it was Sutton Coldfield who were to increase their lead as Danny O’Callaghan out jumped the Rainworth defence to head home in the 38th minute.
The final chance of the half fell to Rainworth, when from another Freeman long throw Ford headed across goal only for Lee Evans to snatch the ball off Emeka Nwadike’s toe.
At half time Rainworth brought on Mark Camm for the injured Dan White, but it was Sutton he continued to dominate and Mykel Beckley missed a good chance when well placed.
Rainworth continued to trouble Sutton with the long throws and when Freeman’s throw appeared to be fumbled by Evans the referee generously awarded a free-kick against Ford.
Sutton Colfield’s third goal came in the 52nd minute when Nadat was the first to react to a ball hit into the crowded six yard box and prodded the ball home.
The game had chances at both ends but neither side were able to convert any, although the better ones were falling to the home side.
Rainworth brought on Aaron Richards for Kenlock.
In the 65th minute Jamie Sheldon must have thought his goal bound shot would find the top corner only for Turner to make a top class save and turn it over for a corner.
His efforts were in vain however as from the corner Robert Evans was left unmarked and easily headed home for a four nil lead.
Still Rainworth came forward and in the 68th minute Ford headed just wide with Lee Evans beaten.
Then the away side got their deserved goal, and what a goal it was, Ford played the ball into Graham’s path and from about 15 yards hit a shot that gave Evans no chance.
It was to be Ford’s last involvement in the game as he finally succumbed to a dead-leg received earlier and was replaced by Kuwesi Ofushine.
Rainworth almost got a second in the 85th minute when from a corner Richards put the ball over when it seemed easier to score.
Sutton however hadn’t finished and when a header can back off the crossbar Beckley was on hand to hit an absolute screamer to give Turner no chance.
Rainworth to their credit didn’t give up and in the 89th minute Gino Kelleher was on hand to place the ball into the far corner with Evans just a spectator.
That was to be the last action of a match played in the correct spirit and it highlighted the gulf between top and bottom.
Rainworth learnt that if you give teams of Sutton Coldfield’s quality time and space on the ball, you will be punished. They also showed they are capable of scoring quality goals, the challenge is to prevent the opposition scoring more.
Sutton Coldfield on this showing must be one of the favourites for the title, a well balanced team with a potent goal threat.
RAINWORTH: Turner; Hannigan; T.Brown; Freeman; White (Camm); Graham; Kelleher; Nwadike; Kenlock (Richards); Ford (Ofushine); Sibenge. Subs (not used): Brock; Robinson.
Referee: Mr. Neil Radford.
Man of match: Jake Turner.